Harlan adjusted his bow tie in the rear view mirror as the flashing lights of the patrol car. He checked his shave, satisfied that he was winning a holding action against the ravages of time, armed with the weapons of a good skincare routine and careful diet.
A tap on the window and he rolled it down, a smooth smile on his face.
Deputy Marsden, his smooth tan skin bearing a sculptured line of beard and his eyes hard with contempt, adjusted his hat as he rested his hands on his hips. Harlan observed how camp it looked and swallowed the chuckle.
‘Mr Foster. Going a little fast there, were you?’
Harlan nodded solemnly. Irony was seen as a fifth column action these days, an adult behaviour in a time when the rest of the country had started wearing moral short pants again. Out here, it was dangerous.
‘I am sorry, deputy. It’s such a beautiful night here. I must’ve been carried away.’
Deputy Marsden gave a short nod and grunted.
‘Well, you were speeding.’
Ah, that would be the excuse. Harlan’s tongue grew thick and heavy as Deputy Marsden’s eyes bore into his.
‘Shall I step out of the car?’
The invitation was there and Marsden craned his head to check around before he gave a small smile and nodded. Harlan tried not to look at the lengthening column of flesh against the thigh of his pressed trousers.
‘Would you follow me a little further along?’
His voice had travelled back in time. The last year of high school, when Harlan had been an awkward bookish boy whose caustic asides drew shocked gasps and admiration when they slashed the cheeks of ego and pomposity. When Marsden was not a deputy but a solid pillar of the football team.
They were heading to the woods. Harlan had been walking, collecting impressions of the slices of life that drew out his sense of wonder. Startled by how Marsden had managed to stand there without saying anything.
The knowledge between them. Beneath sunlight filtered by tree branches, discovering a geography of flesh that drew wonder out of them. A sacred space that carried the scent of warm skin and the ammoniac surprise of their come.
Such moments were not spoken of. Harlan was a gracious guest at Marsden’s wedding and yet he marvelled at how tan his body was when they were reunited, mere days after Marsden’s honeymoon in Orlando. They had their roles to play, lines to recite and stares to endure(in Harlan’s case)
In it’s own way, a life, a love that had kept Harlan here. His talent had drawn offers from the New Yorker and Salon, but the internet had allowed him to remain here. He had been stripped of the grand illusion that their relationship could bloom like a hothouse flower. Still, two hundred thousand subscribers meant that he could stay in town with the occasional flight for a conference or an interview.
They drove a little while.
In separate cars, but their hearts were thumping in unision.